Sunday, 27 February 2011

Mental Midgets

Today I witnessed two of the worst displays of mental strength I've ever seen. The first was from Janko Tipsarevic. I'm still sitting here now in disbelief at how he failed to win the Delray Beach final. Juan Martin Del Potro was on his last legs. He could barely run for the ball and was doubled over after every long point. He tried to keep each point short with drop-shots and to finish quickly with mammoth ground strokes. I've never seen a player so obviously shot - he even said pre-match that he was tired. It was affecting his game too - some terrible serves and weak forehands he was hitting easily for winners the rest of the week. But the mental midget that was his opponent, suddenly lost his mind as he went ahead. It was as if he couldn't handle the expectation on his shoulders, as he shifted from underdog to favourite. His excellent early form disappeared and he was sending simple shots wide and long and into the net. He let Del Potro back into the game, went behind and never recovered. Del Potro gave up trying to win return games in the second set and just concentrated on his own serve - it was enough. He saved about 14 break points. Tipsarevic was just a disgrace.

Unfortunately, the other mental midget is me. Tipsarevic well and truly stuffed me. But it was my fault. I had a lovely early green and should have left it at that. But when I saw Delpo fading, I lumped on Janko and never got out as I was sure he couldn't possibly throw away such a huge advantage. I guess I now know why the Serb has never won an ATP tour final.

I had another hypnotherapy session today and felt fantastic going into the match. But I think I was TOO confident. Once I'd got the early profit, I was so pumped that I felt almost invincible, that I couldn't possibly lose, especially on such an obvious gift. Striking the right balance of confidence is the key to trading in my opinion. Get under-confident and you start losing belief in your strategy and all the things you were doing well. Get over-confident and you start to get lax, make silly errors and try for too much. It's such a fine line between success and failure in this game, which is why I keep saying you have to keep expectations neutral. I didn't today and that's why I lost. I expected Tipsarevic to win and when it went wrong, I didn't accept it. Tipsarevic felt that he was expected to win because of Delpo's fatigue and this caused him to feel more pressure which lead to a lack of confidence in himself. We are both mental midgets.

Positives? I had an all-green book with my 4th winning trade in a row. I was patient at the start and did not jump in early. I followed the strategy initially. I did not get angry afterwards and took it on the chin. I did not place any rash trades to recoup the loss. And most importantly, I don't feel disenchanted. For half an hour, I was dejected but it quickly passed. That is undoubtedly the hypnotherapy at work. If that was earlier in the week, I would have been smashing my fist into walls, boiling over with rage and berating myself for hours. But now, I'm calm, I still feel confident and I'm positive I am going to do well next week. I do feel mentally stronger and I think in any other situation, I would have come out of that trade as soon as it went wrong. But that idiot Tipsarevic did the unthinkable and I wasn't prepared for it. I will never again let myself believe that I am ever 100% going to win a trade. I have to learn from this and always prepare for the worst. I'm confident that I will. I'm going to to become a mental giant.

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